Warren’s Casino Fiasco: Half-a-Billion Dollar Boondoggle

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., winks as she jokes with other senators on the Senate Banking Committee ahead of a hearing on the nomination of Marvin Goodfriend to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The disastrous tale of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Indian casino project gets ever more complex.

As I covered previously, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe wants a casino in Taunton, Mass. and despite being a longtime opponent of casino gambling, Liz Warren is pushing a bill in Congress to help them get it. Last month it was revealed that the tribe is in serious financial trouble and it has subsequently stripped its then-Chairman of all financial control.

We could be more sympathetic to the tribe’s plight if Warren wasn’t so eager to blame President Donald Trump for it all. She has openly accused the Trump administration of committing an “injustice” against the tribe. But as more details dribble out, it’s clear the injustice is being committed not by Trump, but tribal insiders and predatory foreign financiers. Tanner Stening of the Cape Cod Times reports:

In an interview, [Tribal Council Member Carlton] Hendricks said tribal debt has risen to roughly $507 million, over $60 million more than the last figure reported by the backer of the tribe’s casino plans, Genting Malaysia, and that none of that money was ever put aside for tribe members.

Read that again. That’s over half-a-billion dollars of debt owed to Genting, the Malaysian consortium looking to cash in on the tribe’s casino plan. And according to one Tribal Council Member, none of the money the tribe borrowed went to benefit the Wampanoag people.

And as Michael Graham writes:

The company [Genting] has issues of its own. It’s currently at the center of a massive kickback scandal that brought down the Malaysian government in 2018. Genting is also involved in a billion-dollar lawsuit against Disney and Fox Entertainment over another failed casino project.

Why in the world did Sen. Warren get herself mixed up in this debacle?

According to Graham:

The ironies for Sen. Warren are impossible to overlook: An avowed opponent of predatory businesses, Warren is pushing a casino in a distressed, low-income section of Massachusetts. A warrior against big business, she’s helping a billion-dollar company seal a massive deal and recover hundreds of millions in potential losses. And an advocate for transparency and oversight, she’s aiding a tribal government rife with mismanagement and accusations of corruption.

All in an effort, many people believe, to mitigate the political damage from her inauthentic claims to be an American Indian.

As I have written before, Sen. Warren thought she had a great plan. Take a DNA test. Get a big casino deal for an Indian tribe. Start measuring the drapes in the Oval Office. Instead, she’s become a laughing stock.